WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — President Barack Obama said Friday that he has not made a final decision as to whether or not the United States will attack Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons on innocent civilians, but that they are contemplating a “limited narrow act.”
He added that the White House has not made a final decision, but that they are not pursuing an “open-ended commitment” or a “boots on the ground” approach for any mission.
“I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options,” he added. “We have consulted with allies, we have consulted with Congress, we have been in conversations with all the interested parties and in no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long-term campaign.”
He referred to the attack as a “challenge to the world” and said that “the world has an obligation to maintain the norm against the use of chemical weapons.”
“We cannot accept a world where women, children and innocent civilians are gassed on a terrible scale,” Obama said. “This kind of attack threatens our national security interests.”
Federal officials have all but confirmed the involvement of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his government for the heinous use of chemical weapons.
In a report released by the U.S. government that was obtained by C-Span, officials said that they assessed “with high confidence … that the regime used a nerve agent in the attack” on August 21.
“Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the U.S. Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation,” the report additionally noted. “We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.”
The Pentagon said U.S. forces are ready to strike Syria if Obama gives the order to respond militarily to the purported chemical weapons use last week in a Damascus suburb.
Less than one hour before Obama addressed the nation, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to reporters regarding the incident and the potential implications of America’s response.
“What we choose to do or not do matters in real ways to our own security,” he told members of the press. “Some cite the risk of doing things, but we need to ask – what is the risk of doing nothing?”
He later added, “Let me be clear; we will continue talking to the Congress, talking to the allies and most importantly talking to the American people. [W]e know that after a decade of conflict the American people are tired of war. Believe me, I am too. But fatigue does not absolve us of our responsibility, just longing for peace does not necessarily bring it about.”
Not everyone is supportive of the notion of a military response from the United States government – many elected officials have come out to voice their opposition over the course of the past few days, and the British parliament voted late Thursday against military action in Syria.
Despite their decision, Kerry said that “many friends stand ready to respond,” including “our oldest ally, the French.”
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